Tribute to Kurt Westergaard
On 14 July 2021, Kurt Westergaard passed away in a final reminder that we know him because he had stormed the hitherto unassailable prison in which Islam holds the Muslim mind incarcerated, and into which non-Muslims are increasingly interred. That prison is fear of Muslim violence. At least four Muslim immigrants had set out to murder the cartoonist. In the aftermath to the standard Muslim response to refusal to submit, Westergaard observed,
As I see it, many of the immigrants who came to Denmark, they had nothing. We gave them everything – money, apartments, their own schools, free university, health care. In return, we asked one thing – respect for democratic values, including free speech. Do they agree? This is my simple test.
It is too early to tell the full outcomes of Muslim responses to Kurt Westergaard's depictions of Muhammad in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten on 30 September 2005. This did not stop the German magazine Der Spiegel, in what it deemed an appropriate way to mark the cartoonist's death, from reflecting on Westergaard's responsibility for all the violence and murder that Muslims unleashed after their imams had been stoking them up for months. Those imams were Muslim immigrants to Denmark. According to Der Spiegel, when you draw a cartoon of the Islamic prophet, you cause imams to bandy together to pressure a newspaper, interfere in the business of several governments, and travel to other continents to stoke up Muslims who then go on killing sprees. Had the Muslims managed to murder Westergaard, he would no doubt have brought it upon himself.
Years after the dust of the "Satanic Verses Affair" had settled, the more thoughtful Muslims reflecting back on their behaviour at the time concluded that they had done their cause a great deal more harm than good. "Muslim" became synonymous with extreme sensitivity, ridiculous demands, violent reactions and a complete inability to comprehend enlightened values. In short, they blew it. Salman Rushdie's name, and that of his novel, The Satanic Verses, are now immortalised in world culture. Clearly, not all Muslims learn.
Westergaard is quoted as having said, "I would do it the same way (again) because I think that this cartoon crisis in a way is a catalyst which is intensifying the adaptation of Islam." You may not agree with his assessment of why his cartoons were important, but it is beyond question that the cartoonist had stormed the Bastille. The world remains indebted to his courage. May he rest in peace.
Kurt Westergaard 13 July 1935 - 14 July 2021